Eye On Boise

Dems announce three more ethics reform bills, ask GOP to work with them

Senate Minority Leader Edgar Malepeai speaks at a press conference Tuesday as legislative Democrats announce they'll be proposing three more ethics reform bills. (Betsy Russell)
Senate Minority Leader Edgar Malepeai speaks at a press conference Tuesday as legislative Democrats announce they'll be proposing three more ethics reform bills. (Betsy Russell)

Legislative Democrats today announced that they'll be proposing three additional ethics reform bills: A financial disclosure bill dubbed the "Conflict of Interest Act;" a revolving-door bill called the "Lobbyist Restriction Act" that would impose a one-year waiting period before public officials or legislators could register as lobbyists; and a "Whistleblower Reporting & Protection Act," which would strengthen Idaho's whistleblower law by adding a telephone hotline and online reporting for active or former state employees to report concerns without fear of retaliation. Complaints received under that act would be referred to the new independent ethics commission that both parties are working this year to create.

Senate Minority Leader Edgar Malepeai, D-Pocatello, said the Democrats are hoping that Republicans will join them in working on all three bills plus the ethics commission bill, through the bipartisan working group that's been appointed to work out a bipartisan ethics commission bill. That working group, with two members from each party in each house, likely will hold its first meeting tomorrow morning.

"The ethics commission is only the first critical step in the right direction," Malepeai said. "Idaho still lags significantly behind other states in demonstrating to people that we value integrity so much that we make it the law of the land." He noted that Democrats have been pushing for ethics reforms since 2005, but nothing has passed, though a bipartisan financial disclosure bill passed the Senate unanimously in 2009 before dying without a hearing in the House; the Democrats' proposed new disclosure bill will be "slightly more restrictive" than the 2009 measure, Malepeai said. He said Idahoans are losing trust in their lawmakers. "The need ... has never been greater, and the time for reform is now," he said.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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